Viral Japanese Animated Video Leaves Internet Misty-Eyed

A short animated video created by popular Japanese comedian Tekken, better known for cracking jokes in black-and-white makeup than producing stop-motion tearjerkers, still has the Web talking a year after it was first went viral.

“Furiko” (Pendulum) is a three-minute flipbook that tells the emotional tale of a Japanese couple's relationship, from their beginnings as high-school sweethearts to their final moments together. This film was featured on “One Frame”, a midnight TV program in Japan, on March 17, 2012, and reached nearly 1.5 million views in its first four days on YouTube.

Before his turn as an heartfelt storyteller, funnyman Tekken was famous for accompanying his comedy routines with his own drawings. The video “Furiko”, which returned Tekken to the spotlight, consists of 1,038 pages of his hand-drawn illustrations.

Tekken chose to set his “Furiko” animation to the symphonic track “Exogenesis” by British band Muse. Months later, the YouTube video caught the band's attention and they decided to use the short film for the song's official music video, released on October 30, 2012.

The news revived the video's popularity in Japan, reaching this time not only Muse fans but a broader audience of people who had not known about the animation released seven months earlier.

Some users on social bookmarking service Hatena, looking at “Furiko” as proof, marveled at how easy cross-country collaboration is nowadays:

@guldeen 世界中での芸術活動が、いとも容易くコラボできるというのが、21世紀という時代の面白さだなぁ。

To be able to easily collaborate on artistic activities worldwide, this is the greatness of the 21st century.

@habuakihiro へ〜!! インターネット時代ってのはほんと凄いな。

Wow. The Internet age is really amazing.

@Coboler 鉄拳云々より、MUSEがこういうことにフットワークが軽いことに驚いた。

Tekken's spotlighted story aside, I'm rather surprised how quickly Muse responded to this kind of thing.

The hype surrounding the video was so great that even not-so-savvy Internet users came to see it. Blogger Hiro, who first heard of the animation because of Muse's music video, wrote [ja] on November 5, 2012:

神州の泉よりはちょいと年下だが、齢(よわい)50を過ぎている知人から一通のメールが来た。そこには、「これ知ってるかな?お笑いの人が書いたアニメらしいが、感動をよぶとえらく話題になっているよ。世界配信されるそうだ。高橋は涙を流さずに観られるかな?」と書いてあり、下のリンクが貼ってあった。何の酔狂だろうと思って、取りあえずそのアニメを見てみた。[…] ある程度、年を重ねた人間ならば、誰でもこのアニメが醸し出しているものに、それぞれの過ぎ去りし時間から思い当たるのものがあるだろう。人が生きるということの実存的な悲しさを実感させられるが、何かしら、こころがしんみりと温かくなる。ご覧になることを、そっとおすすめしたい。

I received an email from a friend who is older than 50 which is a little bit younger than me. He wrote “Have you seen this? This animation is made by some comedian. People are talking about this these days. I heard this is distributed around world. I bet you have hard time watching it without crying.” and attached the link. I wondered what the heck it was, but gave it a shot anyway. […] If you have lived and aged to some extent, you will feel something from the animation. I was forced to realize the existential sadness of things that people experience but at the same time, I feel something warm quietly sitting in my heart. I would like to modestly recommend you to take a look.

It is exactly the video's heart-wrenching emotion that makes it so popular, Sheniz Raif wrote on the online news site Buzz Patrol after Muse released its music video:

Furiko got quite a bit of Internet attention, not only for the skill of the drawing (1,038 hand-drawn pages is no easy feat) but also because of its powerful emotive quality.

On her blog, Mugiho described [ja] how “Furiko” touched her when she watched its original airing on TV:


I couldn't sleep last night and involuntarily turned on and watched a TV program without knowing what it was. It was showing some comedian anime contest or something but I was moved to tears by the animation. My eyes were swollen this morning.

Blogger Gen wrote [ja] in April 16, 2012 that even though the animation is short, it packs an emotional punch:

ストーリーだけ見るとはっきりいってそのへんの病気絡めたお涙頂戴ものですね。ただ、時間がとても短い文、無駄な演出がないしテンポがとてもいいのです。[…] 正直言うと、ここまで短く感動を詰め込んだアニメ作品を自分は今までみたことありません。なのでガツンとやられました。

Frankly, the story itself is a tearjerker of a tale about a loved one's illness. However, because it is very short, the tempo is great without waste. […] To be honest, I've never seen such a short animation packed so tightly with such genuine feeling. I am knocked out.

“Furiko” wasn't Tekken's first animation to be featured on TV. He created the animated short called “Tsunagaru” (Connecting) after the March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Blogger Droy described “Tsunagaru” on her blog [ja]:


Regardless of age or sex, people of various occupations appear in “Tsunagaru”. Everyone joins hands one by one, making the loop bigger and bigger. I heard this was made ​​after the earthquake with the hope that we “join hands with each other to regain our life and our work and start building a new Japan.” This flip book captures everyone's hope [to rebuild Japan] in two minutes and 15 seconds.

The thumbnail image used in this post is by Oscar* on Flickr, used under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.
This post was proofread by Keiko Tanaka, sub-edited by L. Finch


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